Looking for somewhere to spend a weekend with the gals? Greater Des Moines has it all – from bottomless brunches and retail therapy to bridges and Broadway, there is no shortage of ways to unwind and pamper yourselves (as you should, you queens)!
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Today is for exploring Historic Valley Junction, a charming, renovated railroad district in West Des Moines filled with a mix of old and new, with an emphasis on boutiques, antiques, galleries, and local restaurants. First up is breakfast at St. Kilda Collective, an offshoot of the popular downtown Australian-style breakfast and lunch spot. At the Collective, you’ll find many of their old favorites (Hello avocado toast) alongside dishes like homemade crumpets, a cheddar chive breakfast sandwich and Counter Culture Coffee. We’re here for the latte art.
Time to explore 5th Street by foot. You’ll definitely want to check out Hinge, one of the most popular boutiques in town for good reason. You’ll find everything from modern farmhouse home décor to affordable, boho-chic clothing, and seasonal decorations.
If antiques are your thing, you’re in luck. Places like Atomic Garage, Memory Lane Antiques, and A Ok Antiques will all scratch your nostalgic itch, from clothing and records to antique signs and furniture. You can’t shop without snacking, so pop into Big Acai for a healthy acai sorbet that’ll look great on your Instagram feed.
For the artsy ones in the group, there is Artisan Gallery 218, an artist-owned contemporary fine art gallery, filled with the work of Iowa artists. Or if you prefer your art more on the casual side, there is Bozz Prints, with t-shirts, prints, and postcards depicting Midwest landmarks with a self-aware sense of humor. And no trip to Valley Junction would be complete without stopping into Bing’s, where you can pick up everything from novelty socks to books and board games. As they like to say, “We sell things that make people happy.”
Everyone loves a good, quality candle, right? Head over to Candle Bar DSM, where you’ll learn what it takes to create your very own candle. Not only do you make your own, but you create your own one-of-a-kind scent as well. Choose your jar size, pick some scents, and the wonderful staff will assist you in creating your personal candle. Candle-making is lit!
Once you finish your creation, head on over to Cooper’s on 5th for an elegant evening sure to please. Maybe they’ll even let you use your candle to set the mood. Fill up on our legendary Steak de Burgo (if you’ve never had it, it’s worth a try), and if steak isn’t your thing, they have a Chicken de Burgo pasta. Uh, yum. Feeling a bit more casual? Head over to The Tavern for their light and flaky thin-crust pizza.
Post-dinner drinks start off at Winchester Public House and Eatery, a cozy prohibition-style pub with a signature line of cocktails that are modern twists on the classics. It’s a cool, comfy space with rich woods and exposed brick where you’ll feel as trendy as your drink.
Wrap up your epic evening at The Hall for a nightcap and more conversation. This modern, spacious beer hall takes pride in their philosophy of community, and this space allows that, with communal seating and a great outside patio area. Featuring food, live music and 54 different taps, The Hall is guaranteed to entertain for the evening. Plus, they have events all the time, so you may stumble upon bingo or trivia as well!
Today will be spent exploring Des Moines and the East Village. First grab a coffee at Horizon Line Coffee for the best tasting and best-looking coffee in Des Moines, complete with glass mason jars that are good for the environment and good at making you feel cool. Pro tip: The vibrant purple Horchata Ube is a delicious conversation starter.
Once caffeinated, we recommend taking the time to refresh your mind and your body by taking a class at Powerlife Yoga. Power yoga, hot yoga, gentle yoga, power sculpt and power barre. Whatever your preferred style is, you’ll find it here, and leave feeling refreshed and ready for wherever the day takes you.
Speaking of where the day takes you, one option would be to kick the pampering up a notch by going to East Village Spa, which is just as relaxing as it sounds. Massage, facials, nails, you name it. Why not all three? This is girls' weekend, after all.
Once you finish treating yo’ body and mind, it’s time to treat yo’ tummy. So many options. We’d be remiss not to suggest the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market if it’s going on (Saturdays, May – October), where you can pair your breakfast burrito or homemade dumplings with a fresh bouquet of flowers. If you’d rather keep the relaxation theme going and take a load off, head over to Americana for their brunch. Not only do they have bottomless Mimosas AND Bloody Mary’s, but they also have anything from grilled cheese to fried donut holes. Brunch is all about balance, right?
After your buzzy brunch, head over to the Outlets of Des Moines for some retail therapy. This high-end outlet mall is the only outlet in Greater Des Moines, and you get to spend your afternoon outside exploring options like Nike Outlet (new yoga pants?) or Vera Bradley for your matching luggage needs. You can even find a handy coupon book here.
After you’ve burned off those mimosas and few dollars at the Outlet Mall, you’ll want to replenish some energy, and the options are endless downtown. Sushi and sake? Try Blue Sushi Sake Grill for a more festive atmosphere or Miyabi 9 for something more intimate. Tapas and drinks? Try RoCA on Court Avenue or The Stuffed Olive on 3rd Street. Patio and people watching? You can’t go wrong with Malo, where the chips and guac, margaritas, and patio lights are a definite mood.
Speaking of moods, paint and sip the night away at Bottle & Bottega, the quintessential girls' night out hot spot. You don’t have to be Picasso to have a great time creating your own masterpiece (it’s all relative, right?), fueled by your favorite bottle of wine and plenty of laughs.
Early Bird gets the worm, right? Start your day with Cinnamon Roll Pancakes and Hash Holes (hash browns, bacon, and cheese all mixed and then deep-fried) at Early Bird Brunch. This new spot in West Des Moines is all the rage. With a nice mix of both breakfast and lunch options, as well as a full-service bar, this brunch hangout is worth the trip.
Prefer your brunch paired with bingo? Smash Park in West Des Moines offers Brunch Bingo every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. with brunch, $2 breakfast cocktails and bingo, all on Iowa’s largest outdoor patio.
Do you like history with a heavy dose of country charm and pop-culture flair? Head 30 minutes outside Des Moines to explore the famous Covered Bridges in picturesque Winterset. Home to the movie The Bridges of Madison County, there are six covered bridges and countless photo ops. If you plan your trip in October and there’s even a Covered Bridges festival with vendors, a parade, and covered bridge tours.
Be sure to stop at the Covered Bridges Winery where you can learn about Iowa wines and take home plenty of bottles to commemorate your stop. Then head back to the city and stop at Jasper Winery, an estate-style winery just minutes from downtown offering samples, flights and by the glass. Their Summer Concert Series on Thursdays from 6 – 9 p.m. (free!) is a great one-off girl’s night idea as well.
Looking to taste more? Head over to WineStyles in West Des Moines on your way back into town. They offer wine tastings every week, as well as a variety of wines available for purchase. They also sell cheese and chocolate. What more could a girl want? If you're more of a beer girl, don't worry, you can make a stop at BeerStyles as well!
To cap of your epic Girl’s Weekend, grab dinner at Splash Seafood, Iowa’s premier seafood restaurant, with jet fresh seafood flown in daily from the coasts. Maine lobster is never a bad idea.
End the weekend with a standing ovation by way of some of Des Moines’ underrated performing arts scene. Take in a Broadway show at the Des Moines Performing Arts Center, home to shows like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen. Or check out a concert or performance at the historic (and stunningly beautiful) Hoyt Sherman Place, built-in 1877 and part of the Iowa Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Rock and roll all night, and party every day, indeed. We need to do this more often.